“The Lanyard” [National Poetry Month]

April 1, 2022

“The Lanyard” by Billy Collins

National Poetry Month: The Lanyard (Image: hands making a purple and gold lanyard)

Image Source: wickiHow: Make Lanyards

For #NationalPoetryMonth I am sharing one poem a week and spotlighting authors. I hesitate to copy the poem in this post because I do not want to break copyright laws, so I’ll link to it and hopefully you’ll click over and we can discuss it back here!

Honestly, I don’t read a great deal of poetry. My favorite form of poetry is a free verse novel (a full post on that coming later this month)….is that cheating? I’m looking forward to selected poetry in April so I can discover some new favorite poems and authors.

Can you repay a mother?

I LOVED “The Lanyard” by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins as he describes one ordinary childhood event and conveys a sentimental thought. You will love it also if you’ve ever been to camp and made a lanyard and gifted it to your mom (or made any gift for her, really)! It’s the sweetest sentiment of a child making and presenting a handmade gift to a parent as a “thank you” for all the parent has done for the child. It’s unlikely that debt can ever be repaid in kind, but if you accept the gift in the spirit it’s given, it is indeed a “treasured” and “sentimental” gift! Please take 2 minutes and read this short, poignant poem!

“The Lanyard” by Billy Collins

Or have it read to you here by the author himself!

  • OK….what did you think?
  • Were you able to relate to this poem in some way?
  • Did it bring a tear to your eye? Did it bring back a special memory?
  • Do you think you might include it in a Mother’s Day card or gift?

Meet the Author, Billy Collins

Author Billy collinsBilly Collins is the author of twelve prior collections of poetry including The Rain in Portugal, Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds. A former Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York, Collins served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and as New York State Poet from 2004 to 2006. In 2016 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Florida with his wife, Suzannah.


Do you read poetry?
Do you have a favorite poem?

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  1. I really liked The Lanyard. It is so relatable. I remember making my parents pen/pencil cans, clay ashtrays, planting seeds and presenting flowers for mother’s day etc and feeling so proud. I loved this poem and the idea of all we owe our mothers. Thanks for sharing this one.

    • Awww! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Carla! I think we all have those relatable childhood craft/gift experiences!

  2. I like Billy Collins and “Lanyard” is one of my favorites. (I happen to remember braiding this box stitch for my mom when I was in summer day camp.)

    • So many of us can relate to making lanyards and I love the sentiment the author explores! I’m happy to have discovered him! Thanks for commenting Evelyn!

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